This election is about shopping. We’ve examined the menu of candidates carefully. We’ve watched their ads, listened to their debates, read their brochures and weighed the reviews and endorsements. Now we have to place our order. Maybe the decision is not as complex as we think.
Romney’s argument is that he’ll give us the cheapest government possible. He’ll cut spending to the bone, lower our taxes and outsource everything he can to private companies. He has said very little about how he’d improve the quality of government. Just the price.
Cheapest isn’t always best. Not with meals in restaurants, wine, brakes, parachutes, heart surgery or anything else that really matters. I won’t even buy the cheapest guitar if it won’t stay in tune; I certainly won’t vote for a platform that consists of “we’re cheaper than our competition.”
His other argument is that “Barack Obama is a bad President and, hey, look! I’m not Obama!” This is a bit like saying, “You didn’t enjoy your last meal at Applebees, did you? Kids were crying at the next table, remember? But we’re not Applebees, therefore you should choose to eat here. We won’t tell you any details about our menu, or whether kids will be crying at the next table, but we can promise it will be cheaper than Applebees. After all, price is what you care about, right?”
The job of President isn’t the same job as “overseeing an investment portfolio.” Romney raised over 30 million dollars to start Bain Capital and he did a good job at choosing distressed companies to buy. He bought them cheap, slashed expenses and sold them for a profit. I applaud him for that. But government isn’t exclusively about saving money or maximizing profits and I’m not convinced that Romney understands that. Nothing he’s said in the last year suggests that he does. I don’t want to outsource the future of the country and its children to the lowest bidder.
Granted, Obama has much less investment experience than Romney. He might not be as good at running a venture capital fund. But he understands the many roles of a President better.
Obama has improved U.S. relations with other countries (in a mock election, 90% of Europeans voted for Obama over Romney) extracted us from two messy and expensive wars, decimated the leadership of terrorist groups and put together a coalition to squeeze some sense into the knuckleheads running Iran. Those sanctions seems to be working. Pirates from Somalia no longer attack our ships; dictators no longer rule Libya, Tunisia or Egypt. Companies responsible for the worst oil spill in history were strong-armed into cleaning up their mess without costing taxpayers a dime.
Obama created innovative education incentives, eliminated wasteful middle men from student loans, put in place consumer credit reforms and protections, and rescued the auto industry. He moved women’s rights forward, nudged immigration policy toward reasonableness, while reducing the net influx of illegal aliens from Mexico to zero. He appointed wisely to the Supreme Court including two women and the first hispanic justice. He appointed Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State and used that department to dramatically increase our ability to “lead through civilian power” rather than the more expensive and ineffective reliance on the military. Historians might decide that effecting this change in philosophy was Obama’s greatest contribution. He gave rivals like Clinton and Biden positions of power and appointed Republicans to important positions including Secretary of Defense and Ambassador to China. He eliminated “don’t ask don’t tell” and reduced the number of inmates at Guantanamo significantly. Plus, oh yeah, he saved the economy from bankruptcy and negotiated the most significant health care reforms in seven decades.
It’s hard to buy Romney’s argument that “Barack Obama is a bad President and I’m not him.” It’s even harder to accept the argument that he has been either weak or ineffective.
Because of Obama’s broader skill set, his larger vision and cool temperament, to say nothing of his impressive track record of accomplishments despite intractable obstructionism from Republicans in Congress, I think Obama represents a better value.
Therefore, although it probably won’t sway a single voter, I’m endorsing Obama for President.
If you choose differently, I hope you at least make your decision based on careful consideration. The decision merits more than the casual thought you’d give at a restaurant.
Something like “I had that last time and it was fine but maybe I’ll try something different this time” isn’t good enough.